Here, man is informed that besides Allah, there is no one who can help him and protect him from difficulties in this life and the hereafter. Similarly, no one can intercede for him except that it is with Allah’s permission. Allah is the Master of all affairs and the Creator of everything. He alone governs all matters and is the custodian of all that exists. He is the All Mighty, the All Powerful One who has supreme authority over His creation. Hence, there is no governor, protector or helper for His creation except Him, and there is no intercessor who can intercede on behalf of another except by His permission. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol.3, Pg.456, Amjad Academy, Lahore, Pakistan)
While commenting on this section of the verse, the great exegete (Mufassir), Ibn Jareer (A.R) writes, ‘Here Allah says, ‘O man besides Him (Allah), you have none as a protector who can take care of your affairs and can help you against Him if he wishes to harm you. Nor is there any intercessor who can intercede for you in front of Him, if He wishes to punish you for your sins. So take Him alone as a protector, and seek help from Him through His obedience for all your affairs. For certainly, he would protect you when anyone intends to cause harm to you, but no one has the ability to repel Him if He intends to cause harm to you. This is because no subduer can subdue Him and no conqueror can conquer or overpower Him’. (Tafseer At Tabari, Vol.21, Pg.104 Dar Ihya At Turath Ar Arabi)
Having placed this reality and fact before man, Allah says (to him), ‘Will you not take heed?’ It means, ‘O men, will you not ponder and give consideration to this, so that you will know (as a truth) that besides Allah, there is no one who can help and protect you, and no one can intercede for you. So, accept Him as one God and believe in Him. Worship Him alone and leave off all the other objects of worship besides Him’. (Tafseer At Tabari, Vol.21, Pg.104, Dar Ihya At Turath Ar Arabi)
Man should therefore take heed of this, and refrain from concocting equals, peers and rivals for Allah. There is no mediator between man and Allah. He (Allah) has no helper or attendant, and there is none like Him in His essence and attributes. Allah is free and pure from what the unbelievers and polytheists attribute to Him.
Sura Sajdah continues in verse 5 and states:
يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ يَعْرُجُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ مِمَّا تَعُدُّونَ
5. He arranges (every) affair from the heavens to the earth, then it (affair) will go up to Him, in one Day, the duration of which is a thousand years of your reckoning.
The verse means that all affairs of the creations, existing from the heavens to the earth are made, decreed and governed by Allah. While explaining this verse, Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) states, ‘It means that Allah alone governs and manages all affairs in His entire creation. He decrees, ordains, plans and governs all matters. Nothing escapes Him, and no single matter is left out’. (Safwatut Tafseer, Vol.12, Pg.36, Darul Quran Al Kareem, Beirut)
‘The decree and ordainment of Allah are sent from the heavens to the earth. Everything that Allah has planned and decreed are sent down’. (Safwatut Tafseer, Vol.12, Pg.37, Darul Quran Al Kareem, Beirut / Tafseer Al Qurtubi, Vol.14, Pg.80, Maktaba Raseediya, Queta)
While commenting on this verse, Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) states, ‘it means that Allah’s commands are sent down from the highest heaven to the lowest boundary of the seventh earth’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol.3, Pg. 457, Amjad Academy, Lahore, Pakistan)
The verse goes further to state, ‘then it will go up to Him, on a day, the duration of which is a thousand years according to your count’. It means that all the matters and affairs that take place on the face of the earth will one day be presented before Allah for judgment. This day shall be the day of Reckoning and Judgment where each person shall be recompensed for what he did of good and bad deeds. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi, Vol.14, Pg.80, Maktaba Raseediya, Queta / Safwatut Tafseer, Vol.12, Pg.37, Darul Quran Al Kareem, Beirut)
Regarding the above, some commentators have stated that the day mentioned in the verse refers the Day of Judgment. The verse states that this day equals to one thousand years of the worldly life, which means that the duration of the Day of Judgment will be one thousand years. However, while this is the understanding from this verse, another verse in Sura Al Ma’arij states that the duration of the Day of Judgment shall be fifty thousand years. About this, Sura Ma’arij states:
تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ
‘The angels and the Ruh [Jibrael (A.S)] ascend to Him in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years.’ (Sura Al Ma’arij, Verse 4)
Based on these two verses, there seems to be an apparent difference with respect to the actual duration of the Day of Judgment. In order to get a proper explanation on this matter, a person once asked Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) about it, and he gave the following reply:
He said, ‘These are two days which Allah has mentioned in His book, and He knows best regarding their reality. I dislike saying something about the book of Allah, of which I have no knowledge’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi, Vol.14, Pg.81-82, Maktaba Raseediya, Queta)
Some commentators have mentioned that the difference in duration will be with regards to different people. To some, the day will seem to last a thousand years, while to others, it will appear as fifty thousand years because of the severe punishments and torments. In fact, according to a hadith, the day will be so easy for the true believers that it will seem to them as short as the time taken to perform two rakaah of Salaah.
Besides the above commentary (which has been given by many great commentators of the Quran), other exegetes have given different explanations of the verse (i.e. v.5). Hafiz Ibn Jareer At Tabari (A.R) has recorded that with respect to the explanation of this verse, the expert exegetes like Mujahid, Qatada, Dhahak and Ikrama (A.R) have stated that it means that all matters descend from the heavens to the earth and ascend from the earth to the heavens in one day. The duration of this day of the worldly days is one thousand years. This duration reaches to this amount because the distance between the heavens and the earth is five hundred years, and the distance between the earth and the heavens is five hundred years. Hence, the descent (coming down) and the ascent (going up) of all matters take a time of one thousand years of the counting of this world. This commentary has been preferred by Hafiz Ibn Jareer (A.R) and has been considered the best and the correct commentary of the verse in his opinion. (Tafseer At Tabari, Vol.21, Pg.104-107, Dar Ihya At Turath Ar Arabi)